There seems to be more than a few computer science/programming Stack Exchange sites. Stack Overflow, being the first, has by far the most users, questions, and answers.

What is the reasoning for creating the others, and are there clear guidelines for which kinds of questions should be posted where? I can see a large amount of potential overlap and many cases of people not getting a good answer to their question, because the person who has the answer isn't browsing that particular site at the moment.

I understand that they were probably created for organizational purposes, but wouldn't it almost make more sense to just have them as categories under Stack Overflow, keep them separated but still connected, instead of making people have to create multiple "account"s, one for each site?

I am sure there was a good reason to break them up, but as someone who is new to SE, it can be somewhat intimidating to decide which one to post to ensure you get a good answer. For example, if I am a computer science student, my first instinct might to be to post in the computer science site, until I see that it literally has 1% of the users as the Stack Overflow site, which still seems to be for programming/computer science related questions.

So my second instinct would then to be to post it into the Stack Overflow site on the basis that I have a significantly higher chance of my question being seen and getting a good answer. Then I notice that there is also a "programmers" site, and I don't even begin to know where that fits in. I, and I am assuming most people, will probably just post on Stack Overflow to be safe.

My question is, other than the short little description blurb of each one, is there a clear-cut set of guidelines which what each site is intended for, what kinds of questions should go to each one, and is anything being done to encourage people to post in these newer, smaller (more specialized?) sites as opposed to just posting in big daddy Stack Overflow?

Now again, this is for computer science/programming/"why isn't this code doing what I want?" related questions, I am not saying that if I had a question about Linux or WordPress or something I would have the same confusion.

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  • 131
    I'm not new to SE, and I still don't understand the overlap of topics across multiple sites, so don't feel too bad! Commented Apr 18, 2012 at 5:34
  • 5
    I agree, there are some that feel almost too close to each other. Even SuperUser and StackOverflow can occasionally have questions asked that could fall into either.
    – user354226
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 21:48
  • 5
    Jeff Atwood (SO co-founder), was at least partly responsible for the fragmentation of SO into arbitrary overlapping microsites that promoted identity politics and duplication/overlap, instead of attempting to reduce anti-patterns. He explained his reasoning c. 2010-2011. I disagreed with his reasoning then and I still disagree with it now. See these two discussions: 1 2.
    – user136089
    Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 17:42
  • 1
    @CodyGray: they don't make sense to me, only confusing users. E.g. whatever you ask in CodeReview could be asked in StackOverflow. Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 23:56
  • 3
    In my view the most frustrating thing about there being so many is that you get penalised for using any of them other than SO, since much less people will see your question there. So even if someone is actually aware that their question belongs better in one of the other ones they will still post in SO to be more likely to get a good answer. This is what I consider the most broken thing about Stack Exchange. Commented Mar 7, 2020 at 6:48
  • @CodyGray +1 (now Your votes is 123 on the comment :p) thanks for that comment really !! edit: thought I was alone Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 13:15
  • Yeah, and add to that the 'We closed your question for your ignorance, read this collection of pages, and better luck next time!". I have been a member for MANY years, and maintain a pretty decent reputation on many sites. Yet this still gets confusing sometimes, especially when you DO read the questions posted on those sub-sites and it seems completely logical to post where you did, at least to you... Why some of us are welcoming ChatGPT and why some sites are fearing it, remove the egos and quests for clout, and things get way more useful, as of yet AI does not have that ego. ;)
    – Sabre
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 17:05
  • The discoverability of this is low (even though it has 310 linked questions). Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


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Meta questions

  • 19
    I feel like this answer (or a variation) should be included in most flagged and closed questions across the various CS-related Stack Exchange sites due to being off-topic/out of scope. I often ask myself which one of a small handful of ones to use, and usually end up at Stack Overflow after reading the guidelines for asking questions at each one's help-center. That process can be tedious, though. I'd love to have a cheat-sheet handy, if you will. It would help not only the newbies, but members that tend to develop the full stack, and find themselves all over the place, CS-wise. Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 23:12
  • 8
    Shouldn't all sites for specific programming languages be mentioned here? I mean, TeX, Blender, ...
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 20:20
  • The exchanges above are more focused on concepts, with SO being a definite exception to that. Putting all the language exchanges here seems kind of wasteful, but only IMO. Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 4:25
  • 2
    I've landed here through a question that was marked as duplicate to this. I'm suggesting the same as with @kayleeFrye_onDeck and others. Until then, I'll mark this as favorite link for quick access. Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 6:32
  • 22
    What a mess. :-) Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 23:56
  • 6
    this is a great overview of some of the options. there are a few subclauses that are confusingly scattered under each other's subheadings, and there are many sites omitted, i would like to see retrocomputing as well as those in other comments. it seems this has no guarantee of being up-to-date so i'm wary of directing people here as a catch all.
    – ocæon
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 15:28
  • But what if I accidentally ask a research-level question on cs.stackexchange.com ?
    – SamB
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 20:57
  • 1
    Only one way to find out @SamB
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 22:11
  • I removed bookmarklets from the Web Applications section as they aren't on-topic anymore there. Ref Is Web Applications still the best stop for bookmarklets?
    – Rubén
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 14:26
  • where would a workspace layout related question for a specific programming language go? i.e. I want to ask where the standard place to put a testing package would be in golang. Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 3:20
  • I have been trying to find the best place to ask computer vision questions, and I have been redirected to Signal Processing Stack Exchange, but I find the amount of views/answers the questions are getting is way lower than what I suspect is the actual demand/audience for this subject. Any insights on this appreciated. Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 20:54
  • 1
    @IntegrateThis I'm afraid I don't have a good answer, this is a chicken-and-egg problem. The specialized Stack Exchange sites will never get the traffic they need if people don't post there because of low traffic (which is understandable).
    – yannis
    Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 7:26
  • @SamB You'll get (1) a few downvotes and your question closed for being off-topic (2) someone else will flag your question for migration to the appropriate site. However, that'll usually be also after a few downvotes. Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 12:06
  • 1
    Shouldn't natural language processing (NLP) (similar to machine learning) be included? Related meta question (with a possibly misleading title). Commented Feb 12, 2021 at 11:19
  • 1
    Note that there is both a Sharepoint StackExchange site ( sharepoint.stackexchange.com ), but there are also Sharepoint-related questions on SO ( stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/sharepoint ). While I know cross-posting is discouraged, when I had a question some years ago, I decided to post it on both (and IIRC I cross-linked the questions). The SP SE seems relatively unknown, and I felt I had more of a shot by cross-posting.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented May 7, 2022 at 8:51

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